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Author: Scott Westerfield
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Price: 9.99 $ (paperback)
Followed by: 2.) Pretties, 3.) Specials, 4.) Extras
The book is set in the future and every person has to endure plastic surgery, the first time at the age of 16, the second time in their early 30s. The kids that did not have a surgery so far are called the "Uglies", all the other people are "Pretties".
Tally, the main character, is an Ugly and can't wait to become a Pretty - especially since her best friend Pretty is one. She decides to visit him in New Pretty Town (the place were the Pretties from age 16-30 live, Uglies are forbidden to enter). On her way back she stages a lot of confusion and meets another Ugly, Shay.
The two girls become best friends and Tally couldn't be any happier because their birthday is on the same date, so their operation will be on the same date aswell.
Shay teaches Tally hoverboarding (hoverboard= something kinda like a skateboard that kan fly) and together they make a couple of night-time trips to Rusty-ruins even though that's forbidden (Rusties= people like we are today, but they died out since they made so many mistakes).
Shay has a very negative point of view considering the plastic surgeries: she doesn't want her exterior to be changed, but follow her friends who flew. Tally doesn't look at those thoughts seriously since her friend Peris had thought the same way before the operation but had it done as well.
So Tally was even more surprised when Shay presented her plan to run away a week before their birthday. Shay wants to go (together with Tally) to a Rusty-like city called 'Smoke' that had been founded by runaways - and hit the road in that night.
But Tally wants to fulfill her wish and be operated and be with Peris again, so Shay takes off alone, but not before handing her a note with clues on how to get to Smoke.
On her birthday Tally is picked up get to the hospital in order to be operated but there are a few complications with the surgery, so she's brought into another building which is actually the headquarter of the Specials (kinda like the FBI) where they present her a deal she can't say 'no' to: Tally is supposed to follow her friend to Smoke and then tell the Specials where that place is - or they wouldn't do the surgery on her.
After some consideration Tally accepted and made her way to Smoke, provided with a survival backpack, a hoverboard and a GPS-direction finder she has to activate when she arrives at her destination.
After a few days and some solved puzzles Tally gets to Smoke and wants to activate the device but doesn't have any time to. A week later she's so used to the life in the runaway-town that the question rises if she should really betray her new friends and inform the Specials, but what about her surgery...?
That book was awesome!
I liked that it was set in the future. In my opinion, Scott Westerfeld displayed our world as it is today fantastically - we're the Rusties - and what consequences will follow the desicions we have to face. With the Uglies and the Pretties Westerfeld created an utopian city in which everyone has the same chances (looking at their exterior) but he also brings light to the negative aspect of a world like that which is amplified by putting a controlling government into the whole mix.
The story is ass-kicking and actually I'm kinda jealous I didn't think of a plot like that (even though I'm sure I would have ruined the concept with my inability to put my thoughts and ideas into words).
Obviously the story goes on and I'm also gonna buy and review the other 3 books as soon as I have money :).